Have we not fought, and won, all these fucking battles for democracy before? Apparently not. What we politely call “segregationists” succeeded, for a solid century, in nullifying the results of the Civil War, effectively voiding all rights conferred by the Thirteenth (no involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime…) Fourteenth (full rights of federal citizenship for anyone born here) and Fifteenth amendments (right to vote may not be denied on account of race or previous condition of servitude) . Almost 100 years later Congress had to pass new laws to enforce civil rights and voting rights, both laws vigorously opposed — and energetically filibustered — by segregationists (racists, let’s call a fucking spade a spade). They’ve been at it continually since the Supreme Court struck down segregation in public schools in 1954, seeking to end “judicial activism,” “get government off our backs” starve it of tax revenue (particularly from the super-wealthy) and “drown it in the bath tub”. They are at it full-throttle right now, in the wake of their champion Donald Trump’s electoral defeat in spite of getting 75,000,000 votes.
You’ve heard about the 43 states, including every state Trump narrowly lost, voting on 253 new voter suppression laws to address non-existent “voter fraud” committed exclusively by Democrats. Had these laws been in place for the 2020 election, we’d now be a white supremacist autocracy under the triumphant Donald Trump and family. The final arbiters of the legality of these new voter suppression laws will be Trump’s 6-3 Federalist Society Supreme Court, a group that has rarely met a voter suppression measure they’ve considered unconstitutional.
The first of these open voter suppression bills was signed into law yesterday by Georgia governor Brian Kemp, a man mocked as a runt and a coward in the incendiary harangue Trump delivered on January 6th, including a long-winded, maniacally detailed recitation of debunked lies supporting his false claim of massive voting fraud, before he bravely marched with his millions of freedom-loving supporters to peacefully, patriotically storm the Capitol to Stop the Steal.
There was an ugly arrest yesterday, of a Georgia state representative, sickeningly reminiscent of 1950 — several beefy white Georgia State Troopers silently hustling a handcuffed black woman away, ignoring questions about why she was being arrested. The only difference between the 2021 arrest and one in 1950 is the absence of a beat-down and the repeated use of the unexpurgated “n-word” during the subduing and arrest of this dangerous little elected official. Her criminal act was knocking on the door of the governor’s office while he was in a private signing ceremony with six other white guys, making the new voter suppression bill binding Georgia law.
The only way to defeat these kinds of clear race-based voter suppression laws (the Georgia law severely limits the use of drop box, bans most absentee voting, — it had originally intended to ban Sunday voting — and criminalizes bringing water to anyone on a long line to vote Democrat — ya’ll know where those long voting lines are…) is by a federal law that would preempt these measures. HR-1 became S-1, The For the People Act, the other day, and when the Senators get back from yet another two week break, the GOP filibuster of this voting rights act will begin.
A party who perceives its only path to power as through partisan gerrymandering, dark money funding and voter suppression, and has 50 votes in the senate (and a 6-3 Federalist Society minoritarian majority on the unappealable Supreme Court to review challenges to state voting laws), will have no problem raising 41 Senators, even if forced to, to stand and take turns reading Dr. Seuss books, mischievously sharing the most racist images in the books his executors are no long publishing (as I would if I were them, wouldn’t you?), to block debate on this crucial law.
Democrats are currently agonizing about how to placate the most reactionary of their one-vote majority caucus so they can push back against the filibuster, the obstructionist parliamentary maneuver Barack Obama not unfairly called a Jim Crow relic. With the filibuster in place, democracy, as the sainted Framers of the Constitution conceived it, is as dead as the Fourteenth Amendment was (except for corporate “persons”) for almost a century of racist terrorism with no remedy at law. (Thankfully the State no longer kills unarmed blacks with impunity…)
Seriously, how many times do we have to fight, and win, the same basic rights of citizenship in a democracy?
We know how before Mitch McConnell became the master radical obstructionist he is today, the filibuster was used to block the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, The (Roberts Supreme Court gutted) Voting Rights Act of 1965. Before that the filibuster was a favorite tool of supporters of slavery like John C. Calhoun and by opponents of oppressive federal anti-lynching laws (what kind of country do we have if you can’t even lynch a goddamned troublemaker in your own county?). You can draw the through line yourself, and picture Lyin’ Ted Cruz reading Green Eggs and Ham to block the funding of Obamacare a few years back  before even talking was abolished for the debate-blocking filibuster (the mere threat of filibuster, backed by 41 votes, is all it takes today to block any debate).
Because effective democracy is based on open, fact-based debate, and then a vote and majority rule, (and because these proposed GOP voter suppression laws are clearly aimed at one segment of the electorate) we hear things like this:
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) argued Tuesday that the Senate filibuster “has no racial history at all. None. There’s no dispute among historians about that.”
[The Washington Post quickly debunked that made for FOX news talking point]
That’s false. Historians know the filibuster is closely intertwined with the nation’s racial past and present. To be sure, senators have filibustered issues other than civil rights over the Senate’s history. But it is impossible to write that history without recognizing the centrality of race.source
So says the author of a fine article on the filibuster, writing in the Washington Post.
Oh, yeah, from that same article, we’re reminded that McConnell’s Senate colleague from Kentucky, another peach of a southern gentleman, filibustered the latest attempt to pass a federal anti-lynching law.
Attitudes on race continue to color contemporary Senate filibusters. Just last year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) temporarily halted passage of a measure that would make lynching a federal hate crime.
It is clear enough what we are up against. I’m sometimes chided for comparing this group of any-means-necessary extremists, who march in lockstep, support any useful lie and vote in a disciplined block, to the devoted followers of Hitler in the German Reichstag. Trump is no Hitler, though arguably as racist and stupid as the author of one of few books Trump has ever read. It wasn’t for lack of trying to be a dictator, though, Trump just didn’t have enough time to do much as far as the really historically memorable stuff. Remember, it took Hitler almost a decade to start the actual mass killing program he is so rightfully famous for. All Trump got to do was ban Muslims, appoint three ideologically pure rightwing extremists to the Supreme Court, gut fedral agencies, pull children from their mothers’ arms and put them in cages, repeatedly and openly lie, advance cruelty as national policy, defend white killers of blacks while ordering the extrajudicial execution of a Seattle man accused of killing a white supremacist (both were white), use military force against peaceful protesters, attempt to overturn an election by force and a few other things like that.
To be fair and historically accurate, though both Trump and Hitler can be fairly characterized as angry, irrational, lying sociopaths, it is beyond dispute that Trump is no Hitler. He didn’t have enough time to dismantle every norm and safeguard, and American democracy held, if just barely. With these new voter suppression laws, which would allow the overturning of unfavorable vote results by partisan loyalists as Trump urged the Georgia Secretary of State to do, and will be interpreted by doctrinaire Federalist Society judges rammed through by McConnell and co., he may get his chance, if he can stay out of prison.
End the filibuster or bust. How hard can it be to get resolute “centrists” Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on board?
Oh, yeah, I forget– push them too hard, they’ll vote to abolish the filibuster and then change parties to become Republicans, handing the highly principled Mitch McConnell majority leadership and officially ending the legislative process as we know it. LOL!!
In the late 1870s, the Southern Republican Party vanished with the end of Reconstruction, and Southern state governments effectively nullified both the 14th Amendment (passed in 1868, it guaranteed citizenship and all its privileges to African Americans) and the 15th amendment, stripping blacks in the South of the right to vote.
In the ensuing decades, various discriminatory practices including poll taxes and literacy tests—along with Jim Crow laws, intimidation and outright violence—were used to prevent African Americans from exercising their right to vote.source
Republican Senator Ted Cruz finally took his seat in the U.S. Senate at noon today after finishing a marathon speech about President Barack Obama’s health-care law that lasted more than 21 hours and involved a reading of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham.
The Texas legislator began his overnight talk-a-thon Tuesday afternoon and by 7 a.m. ET Wednesday, he confessed he was “a little bit tired.” But he also said he was inspired and encouraged by the Americans who support his determined push to scrap Obamacare, as the health-care law is known.
“I intend to speak in support of de-funding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand,” Cruz, sporting running shoes with his suit, had said when he began speaking. “All across this country Americans are suffering because of Obamacare. Obamacare isn’t working.”